Now in its fourth year, the Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival stands with Beervana and GABS Auckland as a top-notch craft beer experience.
Last Saturday a sell-out 6200 punters filed into the Forsyth Barr Stadium for a noon-7pm session of beer, food and entertainment.
Brewers came from all over the country. Epic, Behemoth, Hallertau and Liberty from Auckland; Fork Brewing, Garage Project, ParrotDog and Panhead from Wellington; Eagle, Altitude, Hop Federation and Invercargill Brewery from around the South Island; and local heroes Emerson’s, Steamer Basin and Speights. Beertique and Beer Without Borders brought the imports. Check the full list here.
The food stalls were more local, and combined the usual pulled pork and sausages with Southern kaimoana like paua, whitebait and salmon. And cheese rolls. Vegetarian and gluten-free options were available.
Entertainment? You bet. Everything from bands and jugglers, to outdoor games, a mechanical bull and musical chairs. The kids’ area is also a nice touch, proving that the Festival has a broad audience well beyond the committed beer-spotter mob. This gig isn’t just about standing around comparing tasting notes.
All up there were 50 bars and 32 food stalls. Many of the brewers and food stalls sold out – some were all done by 4pm. Cider was a popular choice with this crowd and many cider taps ran out fast.
The 2016 Official Festival Brew was Wild Gose Chase, brewed by Max Major as the winner of last year’s Festival home brew competition. Saul Ross won this year’s competition with his milk stout – Ben Owen’s red IPA came second, and SOBA National Homebrew Champ Jamie McQuillan was third with a raspberry saison.
This year was the first time the Festival sold out in advance, with 6200 punters attending. Organiser Dan Hendra says he doesn’t want to increase crowding by selling more tickets – “it’s already at its maximum comfort level in my eyes” – but he will consider extending the event to two sessions or two days in future. This would certainly appeal to the vendors, especially those who have made a long trek to Dunedin.
The Dunedin Craft Beer & Food Festival has come a long way in four years. It’s outgrown its teething problems and was never a scarfie chunder-mile piss-fest. The range of beer and food available is up there with any beer festival in New Zealand. Its diverse crowd and covered stadium venue are unique and make for a fun afternoon among the beer bars.
Mark this one on your calendar.